by Fiona Haze
On the 11th of March, the Polish Prime Minister, Mateusz Morawiecki, announced that Polish schools would close for two weeks in order to curtail the spread of the coronavirus. Quarantine for students would begin on the 16th of March and last until the 30th. At the time, Poland had 29 confirmed cases. As a reaction to this news, it was decided that students attending the American School of Warsaw were going to attend classes virtually.
On the 20th of March, the Polish government extended the current school closure until the 12th of April. For students and teachers, this would mean that life in #lifesolation would last for a month instead of two weeks.
Students and staff have completed their first week of virtual learning. How has the ASW community handled this change?
Overall, the transition to virtual learning seems to be positive for students. Kate M. (10) says that she “think[s] that virtual learning has gone well so far.” She tells Warrior News that she likes that she has extra free time to take on her own passions, and that she has been able to get a lot more sleep as well as spend time outside. Another student, Caleb Y. (11) states that “virtual learning is really good” and that he thinks it’s the “best thing we’ve got at the moment”. He likes the ambience of his home, “because I get to eat better food and transportation is not a worry here.”
Students also feel as though they receive the support needed from teachers. Marci V. (11) answers that “the teachers are open to questions and they are pretty flexible when it comes to how you ask them to teach online. Another student, Ola N. (12) tells Warrior News that “the teachers are very understanding and support us a lot, always taking time to answer questions in class and letting us know we can email them if we have more questions.”
For teachers, virtual learning also seems to have been rather successful. Ms. Nonato (HS Art teacher) says that, “During these unpredictable times, virtual learning has allowed us to continue our education with minimal disruption, relatively speaking. Of course I would rather be in class with the students, but this is the best option for the current circumstances.”
However, there are some challenges that both teachers and students face in regards to virtual learning. Defne A. (12) says that the one challenge she has faced is that she has “been having a hard time focusing while being in an extremely relaxing setting”–her bedroom.
Kate M. (10) states that her challenge has been that she is “on the screen more and have gotten really tired and lazy the past few days.” She also says that the new schedule, however, has helped her a lot.
Kitty B. (11) tells Warrior News that she has had a couple of challenges. The first is that since she isn’t allowed to go outside, she has been having “troubles with exercise.” She also states that “I also find that even though I have more time to study and get work done, I actually do less work than I would when school was normal. This is because the ‘virtual’ aspect of school makes classes too chill, as if I could always go on my phone if I’m bored, and I have the mindset that because now I have more time, I could always complete it or study later on and so gives me a smaller incentive to practice. I’m also having difficulties with finding things to do, since there is a limited amount of things I have at home.”
Ms. Josepshon (HS Biology Teacher) also has come across some challenges. She states that a big challenge for her has been the “general lack of connection with students.” She continues by saying that, “It’s really hard to gauge how people are reacting, how comfortable they are with the topics we talk about or just in general how they are feeling that day without being in the same room.”
When asked what advice students and teachers would give to someone who is finding spending time in quarantine hard, Warrior News received a variety of replies. Ola N. (12) tells Warrior News, “get grounded in reality. It’s easy to get lost when all you do is stare at your laptop in class then in your free time you scroll through TikToks. Call a friend, help your parents in the kitchen, find a hobby.”
Another student, Caleb Y. says that, “for those who feel like life is hard right now in quarantine, please know that no one is disagreeing with you. For me especially I miss my gym, the volleyball court, and the real conversations with friends that are outside of Zoom.” He continues, “However you have got to find the motivation within. Even though you have a lot of time for Netflix and Instagram and all of other social media, it’s important to make time for yourself. Whether it be exercise, reading books, spending time on a hobby or even just catching up on sleep, those small things make a big difference in the long run. You want to succeed; don’t let this quarantine ruin that goal!”
Ms. Nonato tells Warrior News what her piece of advice for students is, “to communicate with your teachers and/or advisors! We are here to help make the transition as smooth as possible with virtual learning and, as always, we want to help every student access their full potential. Being proactive and reaching out to your teachers will be the best strategy.”